Police (Northern Ireland) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:41 pm on 8th November 2000.

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Photo of Lord Glentoran Lord Glentoran Conservative 10:41 pm, 8th November 2000

My Lords, Amendments Nos. 74 and 75 relate to the removal of members from office on the police board. Amendment No. 76 relates to disqualification for membership of the police board.

The amendments are clear. They follow through our determination to ensure in the Bill that we cannot have our police force run by people with criminal records. As the Bill is drafted, that is not clear. If Amendment No. 74 is not agreed to, one could assume that if a member had committed some heinous crime, had been in the Maze, or whatever, before becoming a political member (or whatever) of the police board, that would be all right. That cannot be so. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, clarified that if individuals have a conviction of any kind they are disqualified from being members of a council or the Assembly for the full term of their sentence, assuming that they were released before the end of their sentence, plus five years. I do not think that that is good enough. We do not want people who have terrorist records on our police board--ever.

Amendment No. 76 lays down reasonable conditions for disqualification from membership. They are very similar. If a person has been convicted in any one of a number of ways listed in the amendment, he has a criminal record, and clearly has no right to sit on a board in charge of a police force.

It is late in the evening and I shall not repeat the arguments that we have made before. The bottom line is that we do not want any slip of the pen in the wording of the Bill to leave a gap that could ever enable convicted terrorists to be in charge of our police force. I beg to move.